Justia Arkansas Supreme Court Opinion Summaries
Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use
Ark. Code Ann. 14-56-202 confers upon cities of the first class the exclusive power to issue or refuse to issue buildings permits and to regulate the building of houses, thereby denying such power to the cities of the second class, despite the general powers listed in Ark. Code Ann. 14-56-201. Petitioners (“the Bank”) filed a complaint against the City of Elkins, Arkansas (“the City”) challenging the City’s moratorium on the issuance of building permits for lots within a partially developed residential subdivision. Petitioners sought a declaratory judgment that the City lacked statutory authority to regulate the building of houses or to issue building permits for houses. The case was removed to the federal district court, which certified the question answered above to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered the certified question in the affirmative. View "First State Bank v. City of Elkins" on Justia Law
The Shadow Lake Property Owners Association and the Trustees of a family trust sued the City of Greenwood, claiming that two of the City’s ordinances relating to the annexation of property were derived in violation of the open-meetings provision of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The ordinances were adopted by the City and were to be submitted to the City’s voters. The circuit concluded that the City violated the open-meetings provision of the FOIA and ordered that the ordinances not be included on the November 4, 2014 ballot. The Supreme Court dismissed the City’s appeal, holding that the issue of whether the challenged ordinances should have remained on the ballot was moot, and neither of the two exceptions to mootness applied. View "City of Greenwood v. Shadow Lake Ass'n, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Zoning, Planning & Land Use
Appellant submitted a proposal to the City of Pine Bluff Planning Commission requesting a Use Permitted on Review permit to utilize certain premises in Pine Bluff as a foster-care facility for displaced children. The Planning Commission and City Council denied Appellant's request. On appeal, the circuit court granted summary judgment for the City, concluding that, although Pine Bluff City Ordinance 29-37 conferred standing on Appellant to bring the action, the ordinance was in conflict with Ark. R. Civ. P. 17, which requires that an action be brought by the real party in interest, and Rule 17 overrode the ordinance. Consequently, the circuit court ruled that, because Appellant was not the real party in interest, she lacked standing to bring suit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the record did not contain the ordinance, the record was inadequate for review. View "Coleman v. City of Pine Bluff" on Justia Law
Posted in: Arkansas Supreme Court, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use
The Arkansas Department of Community Correction (DCC) owned a prison complex in Jefferson County that was part of several tracts of state land annexed to the City of Pine Bluff in 1999. The property was automatically zoned as residential. In 2011, DCC, with the approval of the Board of Correction, decided to use three existing buildings on its property to house persons who had been granted parole. The City objected to DCC's adding transitional housing to its prison complex. The circuit court granted declaratory judgment and injunctive relief in favor of the City, concluding that Ark. Code Ann. 16-93-1603 acted as a waiver of sovereign immunity and that DCC was subject to the zoning laws of the City. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in concluding that the General Assembly intended to waive the State's sovereign immunity in section 16-93-1603, and therefore, the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to hear the City's petition pursuant to the doctrine of sovereign immunity. View "Ark. Dep't of Cmty. Corr. v. City of Pine Bluff" on Justia Law
Posted in: Arkansas Supreme Court, Constitutional Law, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use
This case involved the contest of several detachments and annexations of land from the city of Rockport to the city of Malvern. Rockpot contested the annexations. The circuit court granted Malvern's motion to dismiss, finding that the properties were contiguous and that Malvern had substantially complied with Ark. Code Ann. 14-40-2002. The Supreme Court affirmed the grant of Malvern's motion to dismiss, holding (1) the circuit court did not err in its interpretation of section 14-40-2002; (2) although the lands annexed by Malvern did not compose one area, nothing in the statute provided that a municipality cannot annex the land of several separate landowners at one time; and (3) although city streets separated the annexed lands from Malvern, the circuit court did not err in finding that the land was contiguous to Malvern. View "City of Rockport v. City of Malvern" on Justia Law
Appellant operated a sexually oriented business. Three weeks after the store's opening, the City Council enacted an ordinance establishing licensing requirements and regulations for sexually oriented businesses. Once a three-year grace period for nonconforming businesses already in existence at the time of the ordinance's passage ended, Appellant applied for and received a single six-month hardship extension. After the extension expired and Appellant did not apply for another extension, the City filed this action to enjoin the continuing operation of the store. Appellant counterclaimed, alleging that the ordinance was invalid, it violated the Arkansas Civil Rights Act, and it was unconstitutional. The circuit court found that the doctrines of waiver and estoppel prohibited Appellant from challenging the ordinance because it sought and was granted a hardship license and because it had received the benefit of the ordinance's amortization period. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded, holding that the acceptance-of-benefits rule of estoppel did not apply in this case because the passage of the ordinance provided no benefit to the store, and Appellant's acceptance of the temporary hardship extension was not voluntary in any real sense. View "40 Retail Corp. v. City of Clarksville" on Justia Law
The City filed a complaint in eminent domain against Zara Thomas, trustee of two revocable trusts, and a motion for an order of immediate possession, seeking to procure a portion of Thomas's property for the purpose of constructing a bike trail. The circuit court granted the City's motion for order of immediate possession, and the City commenced construction on Thomas's property. Thomas appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal without prejudice, holding that the order did not conclude the parties' rights as to the subject matter in controversy, and therefore, was not a final and appealable order, as the circuit court had not yet addressed the issue of Thomas's right to just compensation and the amount of damages. View "Thomas v. City of Fayetteville" on Justia Law
Posted in: Arkansas Supreme Court, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Government & Administrative Law, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use
The Faigins owned a lot in the Diamante subdivision. Diamante asserted a lien on the Faigins' lot for failure to pay monthly membership dues and thereafter filed a complaint in foreclosure on the lot. The Faigins filed a motion for class certification so that they could be sued as representative parties on behalf of all lot owners in the Diamante subdivisions. The circuit court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) although the circuit court abused its discretion by basing part of its decision on the question of commonality upon the ability of the proposed class to withstand a Ark. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion, (2) the element of commonality was lacking in this case where there were only seven lot owners who were in foreclosure and the Faigins' defenses to the complaint were not common to the overwhelming majority of the proposed class, and (3) because Ark. R. Civ. P. 23 requires that all elements be present before class certification is appropriate, and at least one element was lacking here, class certification was appropriately denied.
Posted in: Arkansas Supreme Court, Commercial Law, Consumer Law, Contracts, Real Estate & Property Law, Zoning, Planning & Land Use
Petitioners, trustees and co-trustees of two trusts as well as several individuals, appealed from an order entered by the circuit court that modified a previous injunction to allow Respondent, Aviation Cadet Museum, to land and depart small aircraft exclusively from the north end of its airfield. Before the Supreme Court was Petitioners' request for writ of certiorari seeking additional time to complete the record. The Court denied the writ, holding that the record in this case was not filed in a timely manner, and because the timely filing of the record on appeal is a jurisdictional requirement for perfecting an appeal, the appeal was dismissed.
Posted in: Arkansas Supreme Court, Real Estate & Property Law, Trusts & Estates, Zoning, Planning & Land Use
Appellant, the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department (ASHTD), appealed an order from the circuit court that reversed its denial of a billboard permit to Appellee Lamar Advantage Holding Company (Lamar). Lamar sought a hearing with ASHTD, and the hearing officer affirmed ASHTDâs denial, citing several reasons, most notably, the billboardâs conflict with âComprehensive Zoningâ that governed the area where the billboard would be placed. Lamar appealed to the circuit court, which reversed the hearing officerâs decision. The Supreme Court reversed the circuit courtâs decision, finding that âsubstantial evidence existedâ to support the denial of the permit because of the comprehensive zoning set for the billboardâs proposed setting. The Court remanded the case for further proceedings.